North American universities selected for new autonomous vehicle competition

General Motors and engineering association SAE International have announced the eight North American universities that will compete in a new autonomous vehicle design competition.

The AutoDrive Challenge is a three-year competition in which participants will work to develop and demonstrate a fully autonomous passenger vehicle. The technical goal for participants will be to demonstrate their self-driving vehicle navigating an urban driving course in a ‘Level 4’ automated driving mode (as defined by SAE International’s widely-used standard).

The participating universities, announced at WCX17: SAE World Congress Experience, are: 

  • Kettering University
  • Michigan State University
  • Michigan Tech
  • North Carolina A&T University
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Waterloo
  • Virginia Tech


“Building on our success through programs like Formula SAE, the AutoDrive Challenge™ launches a new platform to engage industry and academia in working towards a common goal of preparing the brightest young minds for the future of autonomous technologies,” said Chris Ciuca, director of Pre-Professional Programs at SAE International.

Students will focus on autonomous technologies throughout the three-year competition. GM will provide each team with an electric Chevrolet Bolt EV as the vehicle platform, while partners and suppliers will provide vehicle parts and software to help the students develop their self-driving technology.

Participants will work with real-world applications of sensing technologies, computing platforms, the implementation of software design and advanced computation methods such as computer vision, pattern recognition, machine learning, artificial intelligence, sensor fusion and autonomous vehicle controls, according to the organisers.

“We are proud to help offer these students the hands-on experience necessary for them to make an immediate impact on the automotive world when they graduate,” said Ken Kelzer, GM vice president of Global Vehicle Components and Subsystems.